A very well designed RPG that lacks proper atmosphere and gameplay rules
The team who developed it is the same who did the eye of the beholder series, so the same graphical detail is applied here but this time with much better ingame animations and animated cutscenes compared to the EOB series
. The game is rich in cutscenes and plot changes through the game and sometimes it reminds me of an epic adventure game rather than a typical dungeon crawling RPG. That's a great plus!
Being able not only to crawl through dungeons but moving in a palace, through woods, visiting inns and a great variety of places like a city, a swamp, some mines or a castle, buying or selling stuff or clicking on things and see what happens makes it's world quite more interesting and varied than older games of it's kind. There are a lot of surprises and new stuff to discover each time you play it again from the start.
The music is also much better than in the EOB series. There is a different MIDI tune for each dungeon out there, some of which are quite good and remind me of music from other Westwood titles. Although, some of the musics kinda destroy the atmosphere in certain places, which the EOB series implied with their pure silence.
It seems that the gameplay and RPG rules were simplified to the extreme point, maybe because the designers wanted to make the game far too easy for anyone who hasn't played an RPG before.
- First of all there are no D&D rules but that's ok for me since an RPG is allowed to carry it's own preferred rules.
- There is no character creation, you just choose from four faces who bear different characteristics as might, speed or magic. The characters can be both fighters, cast magic and have rogue skills at a different rate according to the character you choose.
- There are some extreme oversimplifications that totally kills the feeling that this is an RPG where you are actually challenged to survive. If one character loses all of his energy then you can either use the healing spell or drink a healing potion to revive him. There is no such a thing as truly dead that needs to be raised by a cleric or something. The game only ends if all two or three characters have lost their energy. Also if a character is poisoned, you just wait till he loses all energy by poison and healing him would also make all the effects from poison disappear.
- Automap is good. But not when it automatically reveals you all switches you might have not seen and secret walls you might have not passed through. Just move in a room and bring on the automap and you can see blocks marked with a big S for secret walls. But what is the point of secret walls if the automap reveals them to you before you happen to hit air trying to bump into an illusionary wall?
- Using a bow or throwing stars, they come with unlimited ammo that you never have to pick up from the ground. I know that in other RPGs like eye of the beholder it was truly annoying to have to pick up all projectiles you have used after every small or big fight but what is happening in lands of lore kills all realism and so the atmosphere.
Except from the rules, other things that I didn't like is how fast some monsters are killing you, also that there are no clues of where some special objects are needed to be used (like in certain areas on monsters that cannot be killed otherwise or how to bean the final witch).
The Bottom Line
Some people describe it as what Eye of the Beholder 3 should be. It's not exactly that. While it's much better visually than the EOB series and while it's more varied in places and plot, there is something wrong with it's gameplay and roleplaying rules. It's maybe the fact that the developers tried to cut-off and simplify the gameplay for people who haven't played an RPG before. Which might be disappointing for those who have played the EOB series or any other D&D based games. Several simplifications in the gameplay kill the atmosphere too. Great visually, not so great in terms of gameplay.